Making Lemonade

Written by Nell McCormack Abom, Host Smart Talk TV | Apr 22, 2010 10:46 PM

In the interest of finding the best “lemonade mix,” I would like to discuss two scenarios you may be encountering now that all of your admission decisions are in hand.

Scenario #1: While you have been admitted to a number of very interesting schools, your absolute first choice college has offered you a place on its Wait List. Now, you find yourself in an awkward position. Do you hold out hope that you will be moved from the Wait List or do you begin to invest emotionally in the options that are real?

As I have been preaching all winter, Wait Lists are likely to be active at most institutions this spring. The only questions, then, are when and for how many students. The key to getting in rests on the decisiveness of your response. If you want to compete for a place in the class from the Wait List, you must get on the “radar screen” of the admission committee at that school.

The key to success in any Wait List situation is to maintain a balanced perspective. While you want to do everything possible to enhance your chances of admission from the Wait List, be careful not to under-value the other options you do have in the process. After all, you are holding offers from places that are presumably good “fits” for you. Make sure you invest the requisite time and energy in preparing to choose from among them if the Wait List situation doesn’t pan out.

Scenario #2: You didn’t get into any of your top choice colleges, but you have been admitted at a couple of your “safety” schools. Unfortunately, they don’t hold the same luster that is associated with the places that turned you down. As “back-ups,” they we were fine—perhaps because you didn’t think you would ever really have to consider them. Besides, now that your friends have been admitted to some of the places that turned you down, the schools that are left may not seem nearly so exciting. You feel stuck. If this is the case, what can you do?

If you find yourself in such a situation, re-assess the options you do have. They weren’t so bad when you decided to apply. Rediscover them. Find out why they made it to your list in the first place. They may not carry the same cachet as the places that turned you down, but the academic opportunities they present are probably every bit as good as those you would have found at the other schools.

An alternative is to apply somewhere else as a late applicant. This is easier said than done, though, as most schools are reluctant to entertain late applications from students with whom they have little or no history. Your best chance in this instance is to find a college or university with an active Wait List and hope it will see your credentials as competitive with the students it is considering from its Wait List. This is not likely to be the case, though, at places that are as selective as those that turned you down earlier.

Peter Van Buskirk is an author, consultant, speaker and creator of the Best College Fit™ Resources. Visit to learn more about Peter and his student-centered approach to college planning.

Published in Life After 12th Grade

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